The Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos


For years I had read and heard about this place, even attended a lecture by a descendent of one of her frequent guests who actually knew her when he was a child.  This past weekend good friends from Rociada took me there with my best friends from college years, friends from long ago, visiting from California.

I already knew something about Mabel and her friends, famous people who frequented her salon, created the artistic mystique that still hangs over Taos.  When I returned home, I wanted to know more.  Born into Buffalo, NY, high society, she had been married and widowed by the age of 23.  As a young woman she was openly bisexual; her memoir, “Intimate Memories”, provides a frank discussion of this part of her life.  Several years after her first husband’s death, she married the architect Edwin Dodge.  They lived near Florence, Italy, for seven years where she entertained such notables as Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Andre Gide.  After affairs and two suicide attempts, she separated from her husband and moved to Greenich Village.  Eventually, she married her third husband, the painter Maurice Sterne and became a patron of the arts.

In 1917, she and her husband moved to New Mexico.  This changed her life; she lived there until she died 45 years later.  She preferred Taos to Santa Fe, finding the latter “too civilized”.  She found New Mexico “alive” and fell in love with Pueblo culture eventually even cutting her hair to mimic Pueblo style.  Sterne did not find New Mexico to his liking and left.  After their divorce she married her long standing love, Antonio Luhan, a Taos Pueblo man.  They remained married 40 years.

Mabel entertained a nearly endless array of famous artists, writers, and intellectuals:  D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe, Willa Cather, Ansel Adams, Carl Jung, Emma Goldberg, Margaret Sanger, the founders of the Taos Society of Artists.  She introduced New York and the east coast to New Mexico through her columns in “The New York Journal”.  Mabel died in 1962.

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A view of the main entrance and the largest portion of the house and grounds.

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A small portion of the kitchen.  Cookies, coffee, fruit infused water, and tea were available in the dining room for hotel guests. Books with historical photos lay out for visitors to read in an adjoining room.

Dennis Hopper bought the house in 1970 and recreated her “salon” hippie style.  In 1977, he sold it to George Otero.  Because of years of neglect, it required extensive restoration.  The Oteros turned it into a non-profit where they held workshops.  The Attiyeh Foundation, its current owners, purchased it in 1996 and run it as a hotel and conference/retreat center.  It costs nothing to visit and wander around.

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This photo was taken from the same spot as the first one, looking to the right instead of toward the entrance.

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While standing there, I looked up into that incredible New Mexico sky.

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A close up view of the entrance.

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Look at all the bird houses.

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Beside the kitchen, out a side door–patio and horno (traditional clay oven) shaded from the afternoon sun.

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Friends chit chatting while I wander around taking photos.

For more details, go to:   http://www.mabeldodgeluhan.com.  This includes history, accommodations, workshops, etc.  The accommodations portion even tells the site visitor who slept in each room when visiting Mabel.

 

 

 

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